By Phyllis Mbanje
THE crisis at the passport offices is far from over, with Registrar-General Clemence Masango failing to give an estimate timeframe of when the processing of travelling documents will resume following suspension of the services during the week, allegedly due to technical glitches.
Speaking to the NewsDay Weekender yesterday, Masango was at pains to give details on when operations would resume.
“We issued a public statement two days ago indicating that we were facing a system failure, which is being attended to right now,” he said.
The notice read in part: “The Registrar-General’s Department wishes to inform its valued clients and the public in general, that we are currently experiencing
system breakdown, which has affected passport processing and production. Our engineers are, however, working flat out to rectify the problem.”
However, Masango could not be drawn to give further details about the problem or when it would be resolved.
“How can I have knowledge of such?” he said.
This is despite the fact that thousands of people have been left stranded, with some bound to miss important events.
Lately, people were sleeping in the queues since only a few people were being served per day.
The passports office has been dogged by a host of challenges, including shortage of passport paper.
This forced them to downsize their operations, creating a huge backlog.
Early this year, the Registrar-General admitted in Parliament that the demand for emergency passports had increased, thereby putting pressure on the dwindling passport paper. He also cited foreign currency challenges.
At the time, he said they were only printing the $53 passport.
Another issue he raised was that of inadequate personnel. Masango said instead of the 2 540 staff that they needed, they had less than 2 100 officers.
Meanwhile, the usual bustling at Makombe Building was heavily subdued yesterday, with a few people, mostly vendors, milling around.